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Please Join Us for Dinner: Tropical Birds and Their Temporary Guests

This article is from Issue Tropical - Vol. 3 No. 1.

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Pine forests are common in the tropical Caribbean. Usually, these pine forests also have an understory of broadleafed trees. Broad-leafed trees are trees with flat leaves. The pine forests are the home of many different kinds of birds. The scientists in this study wanted to learn what kind of food the resident birds and migratory birds eat during the winter months.

Welcome to the Tropical edition

Note to Educators

Education Standards Correlations


"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Earth Science
  • Life Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Forest and Grassland Use (Educators)
  • Importance of Forest to People (Students)
  • Protecting Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)
  • Wildlife and Endangered Species (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Southern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
When scientists observe what happens in nature, they often must create categories for things that they observe. Categories help them to classify their observations. Classifying is a way of grouping similar things together. This helps scientists analyze and summarize what they discover. In this study, the scientists wanted to understand the foraging behavior of birds in the Dominican Republic, which is part of an island in the Caribbean Sea (Figure 1). By analyzing and summarizing their observations of bird behavior, the scientists hoped to better understand how different birds find food.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Scientific Topics
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Even the same kind of animals might eat different kinds of foods. Over hundreds or thousands of years, animals have adapted to different environments where food is available. In this study, the scientists wanted to study the diets of birds. For example, some birds eat insects, some eat berries, some eat nectar (the sweet liquid from a plant), and some eat seeds. Some birds eat more than one type of food. When different kinds of birds eat different kinds of foods, they can live in the same area because they do not have to compete for the same food source. The same thing is true for other kinds of animals. Because of this, many different kinds of animals can live in the same area.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Adaptation

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Structure and function in living systems (C)

Science Benchmarks covered in this article:
  • Habits of Mind: Critical-Response Skills
  • Historic Perspectives: Explaining the Diversity of Life
  • The Living Environment: Diversity of Life
  • The Living Environment: Flow of Matter and Energy
  • The Living Environment: Interdependence of Life
  • The Nature of Science: Scientific Inquiry
  • The Nature of Science: The Scientific Enterprise